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ChangeMakersSG Day – Combating the Buy-And-Throw-Away Culture

Every year, Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes (that’s 60 million kg) of e-waste – a figure that’s expected to increase with rising affluence and technological advancements. While most of us are chasing after the latest mobile phone models, few are aware that our nation is struggling to manage a growing mountain full of discarded electronic items such as refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and mobile phones. The buy-and-throw-away culture is prevalent and is contributing greatly to our concerns with e-waste management.

But why put e-waste in the spotlight? All e-waste contains small amounts of hazardous materials, for instance, heavy metals such as lead found in TVs and ozone-depleting chemicals found in refrigerators. Many people simply throw these items down the chute, or leave them at rubbish bins and bin centres.

What can we do? Many times, these items just need a little fix and they will work as good as before. Instead of buying a brand new appliance to replace what you thought was broken, a group of ‘Repair Coaches’ at Repair Kopitiam are trained to help Singaporeans with repair of all kinds of faulty products like electrical appliances and household items. They believe that a sustainable future lies in reducing such e-waste through repairing one appliance at a time.

Together with Repair Kopitiam, Geneco aims to reduce e-waste by encouraging the community to consider if an appliance can be repaired before it is discarded, and also inspiring and imparting skills onto fellow Singaporeans as the nation strives to meet the goal of Zero Waste.

On the first week of May 2019, Geneco and Repair Kopitiam put together a repair skill workshop to share some simple repair tricks with families – sew your name, solder a circuit board, use an electric drill, upholstery, assembling appliance and continuity testing.

Under the supervision of Repair Kopitiam’s Repair Coaches, even the little ones are given the opportunity to try seemingly technical tasks such as soldering or continuity testing!

The event saw about 200 adults and children across 3 days. Each one of them had a chance to pick up a new skill and make something on their own using recycled materials. For instance, they learned how to use a sewing machine to sew their name on a recycled piece of cloth and made it into a wristband.

You are never too small to make a difference! Making the world a greener place starts today. If we can start thinking about how we can repair a broken item before throwing it away, we can all help in reducing tonnes of e-waste in Singapore.

For updates on our future activities, do follow us on our Facebook and Instagram!

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